U.S. corn farmers used some favorable weather and the marvels of technology to make large gains in getting this year’s corn crop planted last week, according to Steve Meyer and Len Steiner in today’s Daily Livestock Report (www.dailylivestockreport.com).

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) weekly Crop Progress Report indicated 71% of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of May 19, 2013. Last week, USDA had pegged the percentage of the corn crop planted at just 28%.

“In one week, U.S. corn farmers were able to plant 43% of the entire annual crop, thanks in large part to big, modern planters and a dry window that opened up last week,” the report’s authors point out. Only one other year, 1992, have farmers made this big of a percentage gain in weekly plantings. But farmers that year had significantly fewer acres to plant.

“When accounting for the increase in corn acres that are expected to be planted this year, week 20 in year 2013 is by far the biggest number of acres ever planted in a one-week window,” Meyer and Steiner say. Their calculations suggest that U.S. corn farmers may have planted as many as 41.8 million acres with corn last week. They caution the number is only an estimate.

The biggest gains came in states that were running significantly behind normal a week ago. Iowa farmers had planted just 15% of the corn crop as of May 12, but were able to plant another 56% of the crop last week, putting total plantings at 71%. Last year, in the drought year, about 97% of the Iowa corn crop was planted by week 20 and the five-year average stands at 94%.

Illinois advanced from 17% to 74% planted. Minnesota stands at 70% completed compared to just 18% the week prior. Indiana planted 64% of the corn crop through May 19, compared to 30% the previous week.

Plantings in the Dakotas are currently running at or above the five-year average for this week.